Edward Raymond Turner.

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It is very true that under British rule there were some
great evils. It is also true that in the Empire the people
of England and Scotland had obtained great wealth and
had made investments that rendered much of the world
tributary to London ; while the British mercantile marine,
largely supported by trade between the parts of the Em-

British rule



pire, was the largest ever seen in the world. It is also
true that some of the peoples in the Empire, in India and
Egypt, were held unwillingly and longed to obtain indepen-
dence. None the less, considering all the difficulties
involved, it was also true that never had so great an empire
been ruled so justly and well, and that wherever British
rule had come, in India or tlie islands of the sea, better
conditions had resulted for most of the peoj)le. In 1917
an English writer said: "This Commonwealth ... is
. . . a living home of divine freedom, in which the ends
of the earth are knit together ... in the name and
the hope of self-government."

To all the white peoples outside of the United Kingdom
self-government had been granted, in Newfoundland,
Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Union of South
Africa. These self-governing dominions had such com-
plete control of their own affairs that they were inde-
pendent in all except name, ruling themselves through
their own elected representatives. So loose was the
connection, indeed, that a statesman declared that in
August, 1914, the British Empire had come to an end. But
at this very time it was abundantly shown that the bonds
had never been stronger, and that while the dominions
were no longer attached by any compulsion they were
strongly bound by race and language and by ties of love
and devotion. For some years statesmen in these different
English-speaking communities had been considering the
problem of closer imperial federation, and conferences had
been held for this purpose.

To the remaining 365,000,000 people of the Empire
self-government had not been given. Theoretically, it was
wrong that a modern democratic state should hold under
its sway people to whom democracy and self-government
had not been extended. But it could scarcely be
doubted that the condition of the masses of India, bad as
it was, had never been so good before, and that the fella-


in parts of
the Empire




The French




keen were attaining some prosperity and economic well-
being for the first time in the history of Egypt. There
could be no doubt that most of the non-white population
of the Empire would not, if left to themselves, have
evolved any representative system of self-government,
and were not yet fitted to make it work. The compara-
tive liberality of British rule made it the more possible
for some of the educated minority and the upper classes
among these people to demand independence, and it was
most proper that they should desire to have it. None
the less, it is probable that in 1914 the greatest good of
most of the people in the Empire demanded the con-
tinuance of British rule, and that the British Empire was
one of the most useful and beneficent organizations in the

Next in age and greatness was the colonial empire of
France, which in 1914 had an area of more than 3,000,000
square miles and a population of 44,000,000. Once the
French had lost great possessions, and this was their sec-
ond colonial empire, the work of the nineteenth century.
After the Seven Years War and the contests of the Revolu-
tion and Napoleon's time, France's colonial domain was
reduced to a few trading posts in India, French Guiana
on the north coast of South America, and a few islands,
of which the most important were Martinique and Guade-
loupe, in the West Indies. Since the losses her first con-
spicuous advance had been during the period of the Orleans
Monarchy. Across the Mediterranean in north Africa
were the countries of the Barbary pirates: Morocco,
Algeria, Tunisia, and Tripoli, whose people had preyed
upon European commerce for ages, and carried off Chris-
tians into the terrible slavery which Cervantes once suf-
fered and described. In 1830, after the Dey of Algeria
had struck the French consul in Algiers, an expedition was
despatched which captured the city. After a while the
reduction of the country was decided on and a long and


troublesome war was waged which was not ended till
1847, and the conquest was not entirely completed until
ten years later. This was in the period of the Second
Empire, when Napoleon III was endeavoring to reconcile
Frenchmen to his rule by conquest and glory abroad. An
ambitious colonial policy was now carried forward, some
islands in the Pacific acquired, and, after a war with China,
commercial concessions were obtained there. In 18C2 the
French obtained part of Cochin China and the rest of it
five years later. In 18(53 they established a protectorate
over Cambodia. In 18G7 a beginning was made of the
acquisition of French Somaliland in East Africa, command-
ing one side of the outlet of the Red Sea. Notwithstanding
that Napoleon failed to make a dependency of Mexico,
France was by the end of his reign getting to be the second
colonial power in the world.

The great defeat of France in the Franco-German War, Expansion
had, as is well known, an important effect upon the dc- ^
velopment of her colonial policy. France recovered \Wth
amazing rapidity, but it seemed hopeless to try to get
back the provinces which Germany had taken. She
turned, therefore, to seek compensation abroad, and Bis-
marck encouraged French statesmen to do this, glad to
divert their attention elsewhere. In 1885, after a war
with China, a protectorate was established over Tonkin
and Annam, states in southeastern Asia upon which the
Chinese had long had some shadowy claim. All these
acquisitions, from Cambodia to the border of China, be-
came French Cochin China, the chief Asiatic possession of

But the greatest expansion of the French colonial em- The French
pire now was made in northern Africa, where the French i° Africa
extended their power out from Algeria and through the
Sahara, until all the north part of the continent to the
borders of Egypt and Tripoli was included. In 1881
Tunisia, to the east of Algeria, was occupied and became a




Extent and
character of
this empire

protectorate, though this cost the friendship of Italy for
a generation, and had much to do with driving Italy into
the Triple Alliance. In 1892 Dahomey, on the southern
shore of the great north African bulge, was conquered, and
from there, and from the mouth of the Senegal River, which
they had long held, expeditions were despatched to the
north. About the same time, farther south, French trad-
ers pushed inland and acquired the French Congo. From
all these points, north and south, explorers, as enterprising
and bold as Champlain and La Salle once had been,
entered the country and took it for France, until nearly
all of the Sahara and its oases and trade routes were ob-
tained. Eastward they pushed until Major Marchand
unfurled the French flag at Fashoda in the Sudan. But
by the Anglo-French agreement of 1899 the French with-
drew, and Britain remained in possession of this country.
In 1895 France established a protectorate over the island
of Madagascar, off the southeast coast, once the haunt of
pirates, a huge extent to which the French had laid claim
since before the beginning of the nineteenth century. In
1904 England and France settled all their differences in
the agreement known as the Entente Cordiale: France
agreed to make no further objection to British manage-
ment of Egypt, and in return Britain promised support
for French plans about Morocco. This country, which
adjoined Algeria, was, in the eyes of the French, necessary
to round out their north African possessions. But Ger-
many now intervened and two great crises, in 1905 and in
1911, brought Europe to the brink of war. On the first
occasion France yielded; but after the second she estab-
lished a protectorate in Morocco also.

As a result of this expansion in Africa and in Asia
France had a magnificent colonial empire. Her posses-
sions were far less in area, population, and resources than
those of the British Empire, yet some of them, like Mo-
rocco and Algeria, lay in a position of great importance,



they were a storehouse of raw materials, and furnished the
products for a lucrative trade. Algeria had been annexed
directly to France, and sent representatives to the legis-
lature in Paris, though only a small portion of the popu-
lation might vote, and the people had little control over
the oflBcials who ruled them. In Algeria to a considerable
extent, and in the other colonies entirely, the French
were an upper and ruling class. To none of the French
colonies had complete self-government been extended,
largely, no doubt, because to none of them had many
Frenchmen ever gone to live. The French had shown
great ability and skill in acquiring possessions, but they
were not colonizers as the British were, for most French-
men were unwilling to live anywhere but in France, and
no high birth-rate produced a surplus population to send
abroad. As in the British Empire so in the French,
capitalists had large concessions and had made great in-
vestments from which large revenues came. Yet for the
most part the advent of France into these distant places
had brought better conditions for the people; and it was
usually believed that France had succeeded in establish-
ing a greater degree of order, good government, and con-
tentment in her African colonies than any other European
power had brought to that continent, except the British
in the white communities of the South African Union.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century the German
Empire also acquired colonial possessions, but they were
far inferior in size and in value to those of Great Britain
or France. It was often said that Germany entered the
colonial field too late. At a time when Great Britain had
obtained vast possessions, and when France was building
a new empire also, the Germans were just achieving their
national unity. Even after 1871 it seemed for some time,
to Bismarck and his contemporaries, that colonies were
of little importance, that the primary task was holding
for Germany the position she had just attained, and keep-

Algeria an
of France

The German



late in the
colonial field

ment and
relative fail-

ing leadership in Europe. Bismarck thought httle about
colonies, but much about his Triple Alliance and the
friendship of Russia, and he was glad to encourage France
to go forth and get what colonies she could. But to a
younger generation colonies seemed indispensable, and
about 1879 business men and merchants made the begin-
ning of colonial development. In that year concessions
were obtained in the Samoan islands. In the next few
years other trading posts were established in islands of the
Pacific and also in various regions in Africa. In 1883 a
German merchant, Liideritz, laid the foundations of Ger-
man Southwest Africa. A year later Togoland and
Kamerun on the Gulf of Guinea were obtained by a Ger-
man traveller. In the same year three other adventurous
Germans acquired what was made into the most important
of all Germany's colonial possessions, German East Africa,
on the Indian Ocean. All these African holdings were got
in the first place by travellers or merchants making
treaties with native rulers. By this time the interest of
Bismarck had been enlisted, and the German Government
established protectorates in the new acquisitions.

Nevertheless, when Germany strove to obtain colonies
she found that the best were already taken by England or
France, or lesser powers. She had gained a few islands in
the Pacific, and some African lands, considerable in extent,
but mostly unfit for white men, and far less rich than what
others possessed. Gradually there developed in the minds
of many Germans a strong sense of grievance, and re-
sentment because their rivals had done so much better.
To some of them it seemed unjust that France with
a stationary population of but 40,000,000 should have
enormous colonial dominions capable of immense develop-
ment, while the German Empire with 65,000,000, and that
population rapidly increasing, had no colonies to which
Germans could emigrate, and only such possessions as
others for the most part had not cared to take. To them


it seemed necessary for Germany's greatness that more

should he ohtained. In the early years of the twentieth

century certain Germans exphiined how, after a successful

war, tlie colonies of France or of Great Britain would be

taken; and undoubtedly the desire of some Germans to

possess a larger colonial empire was one of the causes that

led to the Great War of 1<)14.

Many efforts were made to extend (Jerman possessions. The English

mostly without any success. British and (ierman schemes ^"^ ^^^ ^^^'

n- T 1 1 • • e mans in

soon came mto conflict. It was the ambition of some Africa

Englishmen to get a broad strip of territory from the
Gape of Good Hope to Alexandria, while some Germans
hoped that their country might acquire a stretch of
territory straight across the breadth of the continent,
from German Southwest Africa on the Atlantic to German
East Africa on the Indian Ocean. In 1919, as a result of
the Great War, the British ambition was realized, but
previously a compromise had been made. In 1890 an
Anglo-German agreement was made which so established
German East Africa that the British were unable to
connect the northern and southern parts of their African
empire, and German Southwest Africa and Kamerun were
enlarged. This was a period when Britain and the Ger-
man Empire were still on quite friendly terms. Some
leaders in both countries wished to bring about an alliance
between the two, and England looked on France as her
most dangerous foe. In 1898, about the time when Brit- Anglo-
ish and French ambitions conflicting nearly brought the German
two countries to war, a secret treaty was negotiated l)e-
tween Germany and England with respect to the Portu-
guese colonies in Africa. Above German Southwest
Africa lay the large Portuguese dominion of Angola and
on the other side of the continent, between German East
Africa and the Transvaal, Portuguese East Africa inter-
vened. The terms of the treaty have never been revealed,
but it is believed that they arranged a division of these

of 1898



The Ger-
mans in
Asia and in

success of
the Germans

territories to take place later on when impoverished
Portugal would be willing to sell them. This treaty came
to nothing, partly because Germany and England now
began drifting apart.

In Asia, where Germany had got no foothold, she had,
after a while, one temporary success. In 1897, to avenge,
as they said, the murder of two missionaries, the German
authorities seized Kiao-chau Bay in the Chinese province
of Shantung, and compelled the Chinese Government to
yield them a ninety-nine year lease of the place. Then
they proceeded to fortify it and thus make of it a great
naval base, which might later be the foundation of a
German protectorate in China. In South America,
especially in southern Brazil, where many German immi-
grants had settled, it was believed that the German Em-
pire hoped to get possessions, but here the Monroe Doc-
trine of the United States always stood in the way. The
best opportunity that remained seemed to be in Asia
Minor and Mesopotamia, but here Germany encountered
the opposition of Great Britain, until an agreement was
made in 1914, just before the Great War broke out.

Altogether the efforts of the Germans to found a colo-
nial empire had met with scanty success. What they
acquired yielded little revenue and cost a great deal to
retain. It might have been that in the future the best of
their colonies could have been successfully developed, but
meanwhile the Germans seemed to show less skill than
the British or the French. In attempting to impose their
system and their organization upon the natives of their
colonies they sometimes acted with great harshness and
brutality, provoking the natives to rise, and then carrying
on wars of extermination against them. This conduct
brought them an evil renown, but it is necessary to re-
member that the terrible climate of central Africa and
the distance from the customs and civilization of white
men led other colonizers besides the Germans to do deeds

V//'A Russian

Y — -\ Ottoman

I ^ I Portuguese


r^ French

[MI] Dutch

^ German

^^-\^j Under British Influence

\;//.\ Uflder Russian Influence

Scale of Miles
fl 200 400 600


OtNjg*^ 0O*FTiNC CO mC N Y,

£2. AS

IN 1914



which might well bring the l^liish of shame. Altogether,
the German colonies afforded hope for the future rather
than a present benefit, and entailed expense to German
taxpayers greater than the revenue that was yielded by

Italy, like Germany, entered upon the quest for colonies Italian
almost too late. Like the Germans the Italian people were J^o^o^'^a-
long occupied in the effort to achieve national unity and
make strong their position at home. When they turned
to colonial expansion their first desire was to take Tunisia,
which lay directly across the Mediterranean and seemed to
them the most natural field for enlargement. But France
also wished to have this country which lay on the border
of Algeria, her new possession. Acting with greater
promptness and decision France took possession of Tunisia
in LS8L It was long before the Italians could bring them-
selves to forgive this. They continued to be more
numerous there than the French. Next they turned to
an adventure in another part of Africa. Some years
before, an Italian steamship company had obtained a port
at the southern end of the Red Sea, and after 1882 Italy
built up from this the colony of Eritrea. Seven years
later she obtained Italian Somaliland, some distance to the
south, lying on the Indian Ocean. Between these two .
possessions lay the old mountainous kingdom of Abys-
sinia, inhabited by hard}^ tribesmen who from ancient
times had professed the Christian faith. Over Abyssinia
the Italian Government tried to establish a protectorate,
but the inhabitants of the country would by no means
submit, and in 1896 inflicted a terrible defeat on an in-
vading Italian army at Adowa. Ten years after, Italy
joined with Great Britain and France in acknowledging
the independence of the country.

About this time the Italians turned their attention to
northern Africa once more. In 1901 the Italians and the
French had settled their difierences, and it was under-




Spain and

The Dutch

stood that France recognized the paramount interest of
Italy in the country of TripoH. This was practically the
last remaining possession of the Ottoman Empire in
Africa. Once all the north coast from Algeria to Egypt
had been subject to Constantinople, though often the
authority was nominal only. But in the course of the
nineteenth century Algeria and Tunisia had been taken by
France, and Egypt occupied by the British, until only
Tripoli and Cyrenaica remained. In 1911 Italy suddenly
demanded that the sultan yield these districts, and when
this was refused, an army of invasion was sent. After a
year of fighting Turkey was forced to cede them. The
natives of the interior, however, long continued an harass-
ing conflict which cost the Italians dear in money and men.

Some of the lesser Powers like Spain, Portugal, and
Holland, still retained important colonial dominions, the
relics of what had been won in their great days of long ago,
while in the nineteenth century Belgium obtained a do-
main in Africa, rich in tropical resources. In 1898 Spain
lost to the United States nearly all of what still remained
of her colonies: Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippine
Islands in the Far East. Portugal had long since lost
the best of her colonies to the Dutch, from whom some
had been taken by the British; but she still retained, in
addition to some islands and trading stations, two large
possessions on the opposite coasts of southern Africa,
Angola in the west, and Portuguese East Africa which
included Mozambique. The Portuguese Government no
longer showed vigor in colonial development and expan-
sion, and its finances were so hopelessly involved that it
often seemed that it might be well if it could surrender
its outlying possessions in settlement of national debts.

The Dutch had lost long ago their important settlement
at the mouth of the Hudson in North America, and, in
South America, Brazil, which they had held for a while,
though in the northern part of that continent they still



retained Dutch Guiana. Of the other possessions which
they had once had South Africa, Trinidad, and Ceylon
had been lost to the British, but they still held the great
islands of the Malay Archipelago, off southeastern Asia,
Java, Borneo, Sumatra, Celebes, the Moluccas, and the
western part of New Guinea, after Australia the largest
island in the world, which they shared with the British
and the Germans.

The Dutch colonial empire for a great while had yielded
huge store of raw materials and large revenue to Holland.
It was far more valuable than the colonies of the German
Empire and for a long time more valuable than those
of France. It made Holland much more important than
she would otherwise have been, and also constituted a
mortgage upon her political actions. To Germans, who
hoped for the later inclusion of Holland within their larger
empire, the Dutch islands near Asia seemed a splendid
addition to be made to the German colonies; while
Holland, not a great naval power herself, could never afford
to offend the powers who commanded the sea lest she lose
her distant possessions.

Belgium did not achieve independence until 1831, but
within half a century she had obtained an extensive Afri-
can possession. Following the explorations of Living-
stone and Stanley in central Africa and the revelations
they made of the possibilities and resources of this region,
Leopold II of Belgium, after a conference of the powers
held at Brussels, founded what he called the International
Association of the Congo. He presently obtained the
sanction of the Conference of Powers, which met at Berlin
in 1884, to make of the Congo region an independent
neutral jurisdiction, the Congo Free State, of which in the
following year he became sovereign. He had invested
large sums of money in this enterprise, but now, taking
for himself great tracts of the rubber country as a personal
domain, he began to reaj) a huge fortune from it. This

Dutch colo-
nial admin-







and national

was accomplished partly by forcing the natives to labor,
and such stories of cruel brutality began to spread around
the world that the administration of the Congo became a
great scandal. After much contention the rights of Leo-
pold were purchased by the Belgian Government in 1908,
the Congo Free State was annexed by Belgium, and re-
forms were introduced there.

Imperialism, the getting and holding colonial empire,
was probably an inevitable stage in the evolution of man-
kind. It resulted partly from the superior power of some
of the European nations and their greater ambitions which
developed, partly because of the changes which accom-
panied the Industrial Revolution. After the introduc-
tion of the railroad and the steamship the world seemed
smaller and its parts closer together. As a consequence of
changes in the nineteenth century the population and the
industries of Europe greatly expanded. The surplus
population of England, Italy, and Germany went outside
to other places. Australia, New Zealand, Canada,
South Africa were all built up by such emigration, while
the abler or the more adventurous went forth to such
countries as India and Egypt to direct and govern the

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 32 of 49)